The Chinese Exclusion Act lasted from 1882 to 1943, which greatly hindered Chinese immigration. As a result, many Chinese took on fraudulent last names and made false statements concerning their birth in order to gain entry into the U.S. These kinds of immigrants were named “paper sons,” and an example can be found in the case of Henry Pean and his paper son Chiu Jan Wick.
Files from the U.S. Department of Labor in 1929 show that Chiu Jan Wick was deported on the grounds that he was not Henry Pean’s son and therefore not part of the Pean Family. Since Henry Pean was born in Alexandria, Virginia, and as such was an American citizen.
The 1916, 1917 and 1920 interviews of both Henry Pean and his wife Jung She points to the possible confusion over Chiu Jan Wick’s legitimacy. First was the inconsistency of Chiu Jan Wick’s name. Chiu 1915 interview included a mention of his son, Chiu Jew Jon, who was born in China and was three years old. In Henry Pean’s interview in 1916 Chiu Jan Wick is first referred to as Chiu Jon Woot but in 1917 during Jung She’s interview he is referred to as Chiu Jun Woot. In 1920, during both Henry Pean’s interview and his wife’s, the boy was referred to as Chiu Jan Vitt. A few inconsistent names could be attributed to language differences, but these many alterations seem odd, especially within the same file.
Perhaps the most significant reason Chiu Jan Wick was deported was the lack of paperwork. During Henry Pean’s interview in 1920 he presented birth certificates for his children C. Quen Woo and Leaf Gold, both of whom were born in the US, and they were still able to go to Canada and return. Pean himself did not posses his birth certificate, but was able to travel to Canada and back with a certificate of identity. There is no official documentation–other than correspondence about Chiu Jan Wick’s arrival in Seattle–in this case file.
The case of Henry Pean and Chiu Jan Wick was one example of the experiences that Chinese immigrants faced during the exclusion period.